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Buhari, South-East and poverty alleviation

By Carl Umegboro
28 June 2021   |   3:33 am
Indeed, the Democracy Day - 2021 came with striking episodes. Prior to the date, tensions grew high in the society. Some planned for a revolution and unceasingly threatened that President Muhammadu Buhari...

President Buhari. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Indeed, the Democracy Day – 2021 came with striking episodes. Prior to the date, tensions grew high in the society. Some planned for a revolution and unceasingly threatened that President Muhammadu Buhari must vacate Aso Rock. As a result, a hashtag; ‘BuhariMustGo’ circulated across many social medias for mobilization. Eventually, after realizing that a democratically-elected government has strict procedures from beginning to ending particularly in removal of a president, the fire gradually quenched.

The architects perceptively realized, along the line that removal of an elected president is exclusively a legislative affair, and not a street affair by masses, thus, not feasible by civil disorders or protests. In fact, it doesn’t end with the Legislature; National Assembly, as any impeachment proceedings must be endorsed by a Panel to be set up by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, to proceed as provided in Section 143(5). And Subsection 6 (Sec 143[6]) gives the accused president a right to defend himself of the allegations. In all these, the powers of the masses are only wrapped inside their elected NASS representatives. The Parliamentarians are therefore peoples’ mouths except for peaceful protest merely to draw attention of authorities on pressing issues for urgent intervention.

Celebrating the occasion, Buhari in his broadcasts to the nation ‘committed’ two blunders in the eyes of many particularly the opposition groups. The first was the claim that his administration “has in the last two years lifted 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty”. The second was his phrase – “a dot in a circle” while answering questions on activities of IPOB.

Many have disagreed with the claims and rated Buhari as an insensitive leader considering the excruciating hardships people have been going through in the country. No responsible leader would politicize agonies subordinates go through.

Looking at the state of nation with cost of things, foodstuffs on daily rise even when many have no jobs, any reasonable person would be quick to mock the president over such claims. Nobody can deny that hardship is not visible on the faces of the masses. A family that sustains a full-square meal at this terrifying period should show gratitude to their Maker.

Nonetheless, reciting the problems is not the goal presently but to curiously trace what gave Buhari the audacity to make the two hard claims so as to either join to knock or clear him. Of course, it is an indelible right to criticize, but a desideratum when constructive.

From record, after blocking major leakages through TSA (Treasury Single Account) which tightened the system in his first term, Buhari’s government in the second term introduced ‘Free Registration of Business Names’ and many Skill Acquisition Programmes and Trainings for masses to boost entrepreneurship. Next to it, CBN introduced many financial grants to support small, medium and large-scale businesses. Many sectors were covered; households, enterprises, firms in agriculture, hospitality, aviation, health, manufacturing, trading and other lawful income generating activities.

Applicants in the category of ‘Households loans’ have a maximum of N3,000,000 (Three million Naira) obtainable without collateral as done in advanced countries. The basic requirement is to have a bank account with BVN (Bank Verification Number). For large-scale businesses, the maximum grant is N25, 000,000 (Twenty-five million naira). There are other schemes designed to support citizens’ businesses particularly helpless masses that lack requisite facilities to meet up for loans from commercial banks. They include a grant of N30,000 as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund to 9,000 artisans in each of the 36 states of the federation and FCT. Those that applied were mobilized accordingly.

Those not informed were deprived, therefore bitterly disagreed with Buhari’s claims. The blames should go to the elected representatives for not acquainting members of their constituencies of federal government’s programmes meant to empower the masses. This is the primary reason federalism is patterned to have representatives from all constituencies. From records, Buhari’s claim to have empowered 10.5million people stemmed from verifiable records of total number that have so far benefitted from his administration’s various financial empowerment schemes. It is therefore imperative that elected peoples’ representatives should carry the people in their constituencies along to benefit from the Executive’s initiatives as a responsibility irrespective of the political party in power. Government’s target is 100 million beneficiaries, thus, the schemes are not over though in phases.

On the controversial “dot in a circle” which is going to the extreme, it must be noted that the phrase is a figure-of-speech, and used to describe the few, violently agitating for secession. It’s metaphorical, and not addressed to Igbo ethnic group but the small fraction aggressively taking laws into their hands. So far, leaders-of-thoughts and political leaders of Southeast geopolitical zone have not endorsed secession but restructuring for equitable distribution of national resources.

The same goes to Southwest and Southsouth regions. The people of the zones are represented in the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria accordingly. The governments of the various States are all part of the Nigeria nation alongside their respective governors as members of Federal Executive Council. These are the voices of the people in the states.

It is therefore a height of absurdity for a “Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” to join the gullible masses to misconstrue the figure-of-speech and sarcastically, publicly wearing a branded t-shirt inscribed “The DOT-Nation”.

This is absurd and unacceptable. Senator Enyinaya Abaribe goofed. Instructively, a dot in a circle is a metaphor, and literally means a paltry portion in a large space. It is self-explanatory. Sensibly, the president wouldn’t have tagged one of three major ethnic groups her people spread globally as a dot in a circle. The great Igbo nation is clearly not IPOB that Buhari was answering questions about its activities. And Igbo leaders have never supported arsons and violent civil disorders, but few misled youths in the region. Public office-holders must always display maturity.

Umegboro, LLB, ACIArb is a public affairs analyst.

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